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Buying Guide: Choosing Your First Paintball Marker

So you've got a few games under your belt and now you're hooked. The markers you get at your local paintball site are fine, but they aren't yours.

You can't familiarise yourself with the subtle differences of a marker when you get a different one each time you visit a site and you can't fine tune site markers to your personal preferences.

As you get more involved in the sport buying your own marker becomes inevitable, but for beginners the amount of options and buying considerations can be overwhelming. That's why we've written the most important things to think about below, so you can make the right choice for you.

Ready to get started?

A Quick Word On Budgets

When you’re buying your first paintball marker you should decide how much you want to spend and there will always be something to fit your budget. The great thing about paintball is there’s such a wide range of markers so there’s something for every budget.

Plus, many markers can be upgraded, so you can start with a basic model and add to it over time until you have the supreme model you’re really looking for.

There are paintball markers for all budgets and they start from as little as £35 for the entry level pistols (JT splatmaster / JT ER2 Pump) to way over £1500 for the top of the range electronic paintball markers (Eclipse CS1, Dye M2).

What To Consider When Buying Your First Paintball Marker

When you’re looking at paintball markers there are a couple of things you really need to consider

  • Your style of play (tournament paintball v recreational paintball)
  • Where do you play?
  • How will you get your tank filled?
  • Do you need everything, or just the paintball fun/ paintball marker by itself

What is my style of play?

If you’re only getting into the sport you probably don’t want to spend over £1500 on a marker, as you may find it doesn't suit your style of play.

If you know you want something that looks really realistic then you won’t want to buy a DYE branded paintball marker as most of these are very “tournament-styled” with bright colours and splash-fade designs. They also shoot over 30 balls per second which doesn’t really fit with the realism of milsim (military simulation) markers.

However, if you don’t want to look like you’re carrying around a real gun then you’d do well to avoid the TIBERIUS and MILSIG markers as these are all styled on real military guns and definitely look like the real deal. Many of them are magfed (magazine fed) so they don’t fire more than 10 balls at a time which leads to a more tactical and “quality over quantity” style of play - ie. you can’t just spray a load of paint and hope for the best. Each shot is more valuable if you’re only carrying 10 rounds at a time.

empire axe pro The Empire Axe Pro - A great marker, but not necessarily right for a MilSim scenario

Where do I play?

This is really important as you need to make sure you can use your new paintball marker wherever you want to play.

If you play on a paintball site make sure you ask them if you’re able to bring your own paintball marker and use it or if you need to use theirs. Some sites are more particular than others about letting people use their own equipment because they like you to have the same level of equipment as everyone else there. Other sites don’t mind so much but have different criteria.

Many sites sometimes simply specify that the marker should be mechanical only. This means it doesn’t take a battery and so can’t be fired at the faster 30bps (balls per second) rates; this makes things a lot fairer for everyone playing at the same time as you.

Some sites may not let you use your own paintball marker on a regular day but often run “walk on days” which is where you can take your own equipment and play against other people who have their own equipment. These sites operate all over the country, including Point Blank Paintball Games in the North East which operates a walk-on day on the first Sunday of every month.

Rather than charging £7 per 100 for paintballs the walk-on days are often a lot cheaper because they are catering for people like yourself with your own equipment who want to play every month. The standard entry fee for a walk-on day is normally about £45 which includes a box of 2000 paintballs and Co2 / air refills.

How do I get my tank filled?

Paintball tanks aren’t a standard thing so you can’t get them filled up anywhere. They will normally be sent out empty in the post (because we can’t send out a compressed gas tank ready-filled) and you’d need to contact your local paintball site to get it filled. If you are taking your marker to play on a paintball site you’ll find the site will normally be happy to fill up your tank anyway.

There are two different gases and you should make sure you know which one your local paintball site uses before buying a paintball marker or you could find yourself driving round the county trying to find somewhere that can fill up your tank. Paintball tanks use either compressed air and CO2. They aren't interchangeable, so you can’t put air in a CO2 bottle and you cannot put CO2 in an air bottle.

Most paintball sites these days are able to fill up both CO2 and compressed air bottles but it’s worth noting that many sites in Scotland no longer operate on CO2 at all and do not have the facilities to refill these bottles. We always recommend our Scottish customers buy air systems rather than CO2 bottles for this reason.

There are significant differences between air and CO2 which aren't  explained here, but for the purposes of looking into buying your own paintball setup it’s best to just check with your local site and see what they’re able to fill for you. Some diving centres / scuba shops will also fill your tank but they won’t always have the right fitment / fill station.

Do I need to buy everything or can I just buy a gun?

This is up to you and how much you already have. We sell the paintball markers / paintball guns by themselves for people who already have their own equipment but we also sell a number of paintball marker packages which are really useful. They have everything you need to get up and running and we match the equipment according to what you need - ie. if you’re buying a lower end starter marker it comes with the right level of paintball loader, air system and mask.

The packages that we offer are very much structured to include all the items you need to get up and running whilst sticking within your budget. If you have £350 to spend on a paintball setup then you’ll need to budget around about the £200 mark for the gun itself and then £150 for the accessories to go with it as you’ll need something to power the marker (air / CO2), something to hold the paint (a loader / hopper) and a mask to wear because you should never play paintball - even if it’s just target practise - without wearing the relevant safety equipment (which is a mask at the very minimum).

Often you’ll find the marker packages we’ve pulled together are a lot cheaper than buying all the equipment individually - and we often throw in freebies too!

What are the absolute best guns then for my budget ?

This question is just too hard to answer as there are too many factors to take into account.

If you want to play tournament paintball then you should buy a marker that runs on air and is fast firing.

We find the ECLIPSE brand to be very reliable and they are made in the UK so have a service centre here if you ever needed it. Eclipse have been established for over 20 years and their markers really are at the very top of the game. They have markers ranging from about £300 to £1800 so you can normally find something to fit your budget.

Dye make very fast tournament markers also, as do Empire with their Axe Pro and Mini GS range.

If you’re looking to play something more military-styled / milsim then the BT/Empire range of mechanical markers are very good and easy to use. The G36 and G36 Elite come in under £300 and there are packages available for under £500 with everything you need to get up and running.

G36 The G36 - for those who prefer MilSim scenarios

For something a lot more basic you can look at the Spyder MR100 range which are mechanical but very accurate or the Valken SW-1 as a great starter marker but with built-in picatinny rails so you can add various sights and scopes as well as different stocks and barrels.

Spyder MR100 The Spyder MR100 - perfect for getting started!

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